Synergy Health Partners

Arthritis of the Foot & Ankle

Definition: Arthritis of the foot and ankle involves inflammation and degeneration of the joints in these areas, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. It can affect any of the 30 joints in the foot and the ankle joint.

Types of Arthritis:

  1. Osteoarthritis: Degenerative joint disease caused by wear and tear, leading to cartilage breakdown.
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: An autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and damage.
  3. Post-Traumatic Arthritis: Arthritis that develops after an injury, such as a fracture or severe sprain.


  • Aging and general wear and tear
  • Previous injuries to the foot or ankle
  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infections affecting the joints
  • Genetic predisposition to arthritis


  • Pain and tenderness in the foot or ankle
  • Swelling around the joints
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Redness and warmth over the affected joints
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight
  • Deformities in severe cases


  • Physical Examination: Assessing pain, swelling, and joint function.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays to check for joint damage, MRI or CT scans for detailed images, and ultrasound for soft tissue evaluation.
  • Blood Tests: To identify markers of rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.


  • Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  • Footwear Changes: Supportive shoes and orthotic devices to reduce stress on the joints.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the foot and ankle.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical options include joint fusion (arthrodesis), joint replacement (arthroplasty), or removal of damaged tissue (debridement).

Prognosis: Arthritis of the foot and ankle is a chronic condition that can be managed but not cured. With appropriate treatment, many people can maintain a good quality of life and reduce symptoms. Early intervention, regular exercise, supportive footwear, and adherence to treatment plans are crucial in managing the condition and preventing further joint damage.